KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

GAO Report: Poor Planning And Oversight Led To Website Woes

The government watchdog organization also found that more problems could emerge in the upcoming enrollment season. Investigators suggested implementation of a cost-control plan and improved oversight procedures, among other steps.

The New York Times: Investigators Warn of Possible Perils In Fall With Health Site
The federal health insurance marketplace, a centerpiece of President Obama’s health care overhaul, still suffers from serious problems, raising questions about whether it will be ready to enroll millions more people this fall, federal investigators said Wednesday (Pear, 7/30).

The Washington Post: Poor Planning And Oversight Led To Flaws, GAO Finds
Federal health officials were responsible for the problem-pocked start of last year because of poor planning and lax oversight of outside contractors, according to government investigators who warned that “significant risks remain” that some Americans could again have trouble buying coverage in the federal health insurance marketplace this fall. Such management failures are the central conclusion of the first report issued by the Government Accountability Office as part of a wide-ranging appraisal of the reasons the computer system was not ready when the marketplace opened in October (Goldstein, 7/30).

The Wall Street Journal: Poorly Managed Construction Cost $840 Million, Watchdog Finds
The problems of have been extensively reported since the federal government opened the website in October to sell insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Still, the official conclusions are likely to further fuel debate ahead of November's midterm elections, and as the Obama administration scrambles to finish and revamp the site in time for the next enrollment season. "CMS incurred significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed system functionality for the [site] and data hub systems due primarily to changing requirements that were exacerbated by inconsistent oversight," according to the testimony (Radnofsky, 7/30).

The Associated Press: Probe Exposes Flaws Behind Rollout
Spokesman Aaron Albright said the administration takes its responsibility for contract oversight seriously and has already started carrying out improvements that go beyond GAO’s recommendations. The congressional investigators recommended a cost-control plan and other changes to establish clear procedures and improve oversight (7/30).

USA Today: Probe Faults Oversight Of
The Department of Health and Human Services "needs a mitigation plan to address these issues," wrote the report author, William Woods, director of acquisitions and sourcing management for the Government Accountability Office. Unless the government "improves contract management and adheres to a structured governance process, significant risks remain that upcoming enrollment periods could encounter challenges." A new contract went to Accenture Federal Services to take over the site in January after the original contractor, CGI Federal, was essentially dropped after the poor launch. But Accenture's original contract for $91 million has increased to more than $175 million, and some of the back-end issues on the site are still not working, according to the report, which will be presented in a House hearing Thursday (Kennedy, 7/30).

Politico: Probe Exposes Flaws Behind Rollout
Major flaws in managing contractors led to tens of millions of dollars in extra costs and contributed to the botched rollout of the federal Obamacare website last fall, according to a review by a nonpartisan government investigator released Wednesday. The report also identifies ongoing challenges for the contractor hired to get into better shape after CGI, the original contractor, was replaced. Enough improvements were made to allow millions of people to sign up, but aspects of the website are still unfinished, especially the financial management tools insurers need to help balance their books. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned in April, and Sylvia Mathews Burwell replaced her (Haberkorn and Norman, 7/30).

Reuters: Federal Obamacare Market Still Faces Cost Overruns, Delays, Watchdog Says
Ten months after the botched rollout of, Obamacare's federal health insurance exchange is still dogged by cost overruns and technology delays that could hamper enrollment when it resumes in November, a U.S. watchdog said. The total cost of and its supporting systems hit $840 million in March, according to a forthcoming report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO). Excerpts of the report were released on Wednesday by a U.S. House of Representatives oversight committee. Part of the cost stems from the federal government's work with Accenture Plc, the lead contractor for the website. The value of that contract soared more than 92 percent in less than six months, from $91 million in January to more than $175 million by early June, a GAO investigation found (Morgan, 7/30).

The Fiscal Times: Healthcare.Gov Costs Climb To Nearly $1 Billion
The federal government has doled out more than $840 million to build and then fix the tech--troubled Obamacare website, Though many have speculated about the climbing costs of the federal Obamacare exchange website that suffered a nightmarish rollout plagued with technical glitches last fall, a new investigation from the Government Accountability Office reveals its official price tag and details why the costs have soared so high. In prepared testimony posted ahead of a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for Thursday, GAO official William T. Woods blasts the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for serious management issues and lack of oversight over contractors, which led to the disastrous website problems and expensive repair efforts (Ehley, 7/30).

NBC News: Rushed HHS Let Contractors Fumble Obamacare Website, GAO Says
A rushed team at the Department of Health and Human Services failed to plan properly or watch over contractors hired to set up and run the online health insurance exchange, setting it up for its spectacular blowout when it rolled out last October, according to a report to be released Thursday. And unless HHS acts, more problems could happen this year, the report warns (Fox and Seidman, 7/30).

CBS News: HealthCare.Gov Has Already Cost $840 Million, the federal health-exchange website plagued with glitches at its launch, has already cost $840 million to build, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of two task orders and one contract related to building the system. The cost overruns were incurred through a combination of inconsistent oversight and constantly changing requirements, according to testimony prepared by GAO's Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, William Woods, who is scheduled to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee Thursday. (Kaplan, 7/30).

Fox News: Failures in Management Led to Obamacare Website Woes, Investigation Finds
A failure of management by the Obama administration led to the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare website and has caused the government to incur tens of millions in additional costs, according to a congressional watchdog report released Wednesday. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded after a months-long investigation into the rocky rollout of that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ failure to establish “effective planning or oversight practices” was to blame for website’s myriad problems after it was launched (7/30).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.